Home' Navy News : July 21st 2011 Contents 15
July 21, 2011
THE Armidale-class patrol
boats (ACPB) and their crews
are doing the Navy proud
as they spearhead Operation
Resolute, the ADF's contribution to the
Australian Government's joint commit-
ment to border security.
A recent patrol by HMAS Albany in
the Ashmore Reef area reflected the chal-
lenges patrol boat crews are facing and
their need for adaptability in a time of
high tempo at the border.
The Ardent II crew, normally based in
Cairns, flew the extra 2600km in March
to Darwin, the home port of HMAS
Albany, to take command of the ship,
while HMAS Bundaberg, the usual plat-
form, underwent long-term maintenance
Members of ACPB crews are keeping
busy patrolling and responding to mari-
time security threats within the Australian
Commanding Officer of Ardent II,
LCDR Carlton Longhurst, said his crew
was trained and ready to respond to a vast
array of civil maritime security threats
including illegal foreign fishing, potential
irregular maritime arrivals, drug interdic-
tion and potential terrorism.
"Working with other agencies under
Border Protection Command gives us a
greater dynamic of range and response
options to mitigate and respond to these
threats," he said.
The Armidale-class boats have
contributed to the achievement of an
extremely high interception rate of sus-
pected irregular entry vessels (SIEVs)
despite a recent increase in arrivals.
A combined effort under Border
Protection Command, the patrol boats,
together with Customs and Border
Protection and partner agencies, are
achieving outstanding results.
In addition to achieving a high rate of
SIEV interceptions, the number of for-
eign fishing vessel (FFV) apprehensions
has dropped markedly in the past five
years, due in part to the deterrent effect
of surface patrols conducted by the patrol
The ADF contribution to civil mari-
time security via Operation Resolute also
includes surveillance from RAAF AP-3C
Orion maritime patrol aircraft, Army
regional force surveillance unit patrols
and a transit security element compris-
ing sailors who supplement the existing
Navy boarding party team and provide
additional security aboard apprehended
The patrol boat divisions work with
the Customs and Border Protection
Marine Unit and the Australian Fisheries
Management Authority (AFMA) in
responding to civil maritime security
Bruce Grant, a Customs Enforcement
Commander in charge of a team of 28
maritime enforcement officers, said the
environment was unique and it was all
about relying on each other.
"In the Ashmore Reef area, often
Navy patrol boats are the first response
vessel to intercept irregular maritime
arrivals," he said.
"Customs and Border Protection offic-
ers will often attend after an initial board-
ing of a SIEV by a Navy vessel, take cus-
tody of the passengers and effect transfer
of passengers to Australian Government
authorities at Christmas Island."
Customs and Border Protection
Service also contributes heavily to
surveillance, with fixed wing Dash 8 air-
craft each capable of searching an area of
more than 110,000 sq km.
An Australian fisheries officer may
also join an ACPB on patrol to provide
expertise and knowledge in illegal fishing
interventions under the Fisheries Act.
Deployed on HMAS Albany, Jamie
Cox from the AFMA said his service did
not have the assets to conduct its own
fishery patrols and therefore it was vital
to link in with Defence and Customs and
Border Protection platforms.
"While we perform our duty, we also
complement the skills of Customs and
Border Protection and Defence personnel
and educate officers about the environ-
mental and legislative issues raised by
illegal foreign fishing," he said.
"Partnerships between Defence,
Customs and Border Protection and
AFMA are strong and they let us into the
team. We participate in training activities,
general maintenance of the vessel as well
as personal training."
The profile of the Patrol Boat Group
has certainly lifted in recent times with
media and public attention following the
increased arrival of SIEVs and the televi-
sion show Sea Patrol.
However, while the spotlight shines
on certain incidents, much of Navy's
important role in Operation Resolute
occurs far out at sea, often unseen and
unheard by the general public.
"Once we get away from the wharf,
it's me and my team, and it's good fun,"
LCDR Longhurst said.
In an ACPB, he added, individuals
undertook a broader range of responsi-
bilities and he relied heavily on even the
most junior sailor for their creative input
"Every day is a real-time operation for
the team, and their contribution is some-
thing they can be very proud of," he said.
As Albany arrived in her home port of
HMAS Coonawarra after 13 days at sea,
LCDR Longhurst boasted "not a scratch"
as he brought her alongside effortlessly.
TROL ON THE FRONT LINE: SBLT James Stuart, from the Assail IV crew, takes
part in officer of the watch manoeuvres aboard HMAS Broome after handing
over to HMAS Albany as the Ashmore Island Response Vessel for Operation
Resolute. Broome continued further west to assume duties as the Christmas
Island Response Vessel.
Photo: LEUT Jane Landon
The RAN is rising to the challenge of
securing Australia's northern maritime
borders as part of Operation Resolute.
LEUT Andrew Ragless reports.
CONCENTRATING: POCIS Hugh Scanell, HMAS Broome,
monitors tactical communications with HMAS Albany
during a set of officer of the watch manoeuvres.
Photo: LEUT Andrew Ragless
At a glance
The Operation Resolute Area of
Operations covers about 10 per
cent of the world's surface and
includes Australia's Exclusive
Economic Zone, which extends up
to 200nm around the mainland and
The Navy operates 14 Armidale-
class patrol boats (ACPBs) with 21
rotational crews, of which at least
seven are engaged in Operation
Resolute at any one time.
The Transit Security Element
consists of about 38 security-
trained Navy personnel conducting
rotational deployments embarked
in Navy ACPBs.
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